If there’s one topic set to divide role-players even more than the dreaded Edition Wars, it’s Anthropomorphic role-playing. Even Wizards of The Coast themselves casually decried anthro races as “silly and childish” – then promptly populated the Monster Manuals with Gnolls, Rakshasas, Bullywugs and many other animal/human hybrid races.
But what about an all-anthro campaign? Is such a thing possible using just 4e D&D and a sprinkling of LazyGM magic? We’re not talking about writing an entire freakin’ sourcebook here, but re-tooling what you already possess in the Core Books to drop D&D firmly into Mouse Guard/Animals of Farthing Wood territory. If you relish the chance to play a Badger Paladin or Ninja Cat, read on…………..
The key, of course, are the Races. It’s a simple enough matter to rename each core race, tweak it a little and give it a furry coat. The end result is a game that’s still 100% D&D, but with added fleas and wet noses.
Humanity defines the baseline. They’re the ‘normal’ race – solid, dependable and flexible enough to provide a wide variety of choices and archetypes within a single racial entry. If you’re going for a Mouse Guard style campaign, the Human racial entry is used for mice. If you fancy more of a Dogs vs. Cats vibe, the Dogs could be represented with the Human entry – just add the ability to use the Perception skill to track by scent and you’re there. As you’re free to add the +2 to any ability score this could emphasize the wide racial variety found in canines.
Solid, dependable, tough and wise – a perfect statblock to use for a Badger. Optionally, replace Dwarven Weapon Proficiency with a Burrowing Speed and add the ability to gain fighting Claws as per the Shifter as a Racial Feat.
Alternately, if the Human entry isn’t being used for Dogs then the Dwarf entry would make a great second choice with canines showing the same resilience and loyalty, allbeit in a (slightly) hairier package.
The Elven entry would make a darned fine Mustelid and cover all of your Otters, Stoats and Weasel needs. Either replace the Elven Accuracy ability with a Swim speed or grant them Improved Initiative as a free Feat to represent their lightning-quick combat reflexes.
There’s only one other creature that’s agile, supernaturally clever and possesses the annoying ability to disappear and reappear where you least expect it: the Cat. Fey Step actually makes more sense for a feline than it does an elf, though if you prefer you could replace it with retractable claws (d4 damage, +4 to climb checks) instead.
Alternatively, replace the Fey Step with a Climb ability and you’ve got a Squirrel.
Gandalf the Grey Squirrel
Drop Dual Heritage, add wings and your Half-Elf racial write-up becomes any number of small birds from the ‘umble Sparrow to the brave Robin or hoarding Magpie. The Dilettante well reflects their flighty nature and Group Diplomacy their tendency to flock together when danger threatens.
Small, easily overlooked and loves nothing more than a mouth stuffed full of food – the Halfling becomes the Hamster who is braver on the inside than he first appears. He comes complete with tiny deft hands that are perfect for “borrowing” things from other animals.
C’mon, who wouldn’t want to play a Hamster Rogue?
The taint of evil, a vile cunning and a touch of raw savagery if provoked. I smell a Rat! These imposing critters (at least, imposing if you’re a mouse) stamp their mark wherever they roam, and legends tell of a once mighty Rat Empire still ruled to this day by a mummified Rat King……….
This race might not seem to be a good fit into the world of anthropmorphic role-playing, but it makes a darned fine Toad. Replace it’s Dragon Breath with it’s spittle-coated Tongue (Targets one creature, 1d6+CON damage & Pull one square) and you’re there.